Scientists have revealed the audio of a dust devil on Mars that was recorded by NASA’s Perseverance rover. It lasts for around 10 seconds and includes up to 25 metre per hour rumbling gusts as well as hundreds of dust particles pinging against the Perseverance rover. According to the researchers, it sounds surprisingly similar to dust devils on Earth, though quieter due to the thin atmosphere on Mars, which produces more subdued sounds and less fierce wind. Dust devils, or dust whirlwinds, are common on the red planet and are part of the weather patterns.
The rover landed on Mars in February 2021 and has a functioning microphone connected to it. Since then, the device has been put to good use. The microphone is a component of the SuperCam, a group of recording devices on the rover.
The space agency informs that when SuperCam’s microphone recorded the dust devil, Perseverance’s weather sensors which measure wind, pressure, temperature and dust as well as the rover’s left navigation camera were on. “This allowed scientists to combine sound, image, and atmospheric data. The unique combination of this data, along with atmospheric modelling, allowed the researchers to estimate the dust devil’s dimensions: 82 feet (25 metres) wide, at least 387 feet (118 metres) tall, and moving at about 12 mph (19 kph),” NASA states in a press release.
“With this dust-devil recording, we can actually hear and count particles impacting the rover,” Naomi Murdoch, a planetary scientist at the Institut Superieur de l’Aeronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE-SUPAERO) at the University of Toulouse in France, told Space.com. The recording includes a total of 308 impacts on the rover from dust grains carried by the winds of the dust devil.
“Capturing a passing dust devil takes some luck,” NASA added. “Scientists can’t predict when they’ll pass by, so rovers like Perseverance and Curiosity routinely monitor in all directions for them. When scientists see them occur more frequently at a certain time of day, or approach from a certain direction, they use that information to focus their monitoring to try to catch a dust devil,” they continued.
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